Human rights activist Kerry Kennedy Cuomo to give Women’s Society Adele Starbird Lecture

Human rights activist Kerry Kennedy Cuomo will deliver the annual Women’s Society Adele Starbird Lecture at 11 a.m. on April 9, for Washington University’s Assembly Series. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Graham Chapel, located just north of Mallinckrodt Center (6445 Forsyth Blvd.) on the Washington University campus.

Kennedy Cuomo’s work in the field of human rights began in 1981, when she initiated an investigation into alleged abuse of El Salvador refugees by U.S. immigration officials. Since then, she has been devoted to the promotion and protection of basic rights, covering such legal and social justice issues as freedom of expression, child labor, indigenous land rights, judicial independence, ethnic violence and women’s rights. In the past twenty years, Kennedy Cuomo has led more than three dozen human rights delegations to more than 20 countries.

In 1988, she founded the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, created to protect rights outlined in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. The Center provides support and resources for human rights defenders, and investigates and uncovers violations, such as torture or disappearances. The Center also encourages the U.S. government to spotlight human rights in foreign and domestic policies, striving to make a difference in the international arena.

Kennedy Cuomo’s enduring dedication to human rights has led to her involvement in related organizations. She directed the National Juvenile Justice Project, committed to finding less costly, more effective programs to deal with offending minors within the penal system, and the RFK Journalism and RFK Book Awards, recognized by many as the “poor people’s Pulitzers,” that spotlight individuals who are active in human rights awareness. Kennedy Cuomo is also on the board of directors of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, a non-profit human rights organization.

In addition, she chairs the Amnesty International Leadership Council and serves as a jurist for the Reebok Human Rights Award. She has served on many governing boards related to human rights issues, including the Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights and the Bloody Sunday Trust, and on many advisory committees and political campaigns.

Her book, Speak Truth to Power, Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World, contains interviews from a multitude of human rights activists from around the world, including the Dalai Lama, Elie Wiesel and Desmond Tutu, to name a few. It has created a host of spin-offs, including a theatrical production and a television program, and is now distributed as an educational tool to many high schools and colleges.

Kennedy Cuomo is a member of the Massachusetts and D.C. bars. For more information on the Assembly Series lecture, call (314) 935-4620 or visit the Assembly Series web page (